“Wadjda” Film directed by Ms. Haifaa Al Mansour has become the first Saudi lady to direct a feature film that won the "Best Film Award" at the 8th Gulf Film Festival (GFF). The film was produced by Rotana, that is Chaired by HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud. Moreover, the film award is another addition to Ms. Haifaa Al Mansour list of awards.
Prince Alwaleed commented: “Rotana is the face of social advancement in Saudi and will continue to do so.”
In 2012, “Wadjda” also received "Best Film Award" at the 9th Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF), in the “Muhr Arab” feature. Moreover, the film also received the "Best Actor Award" for the outstanding performance by the young Saudi actress, Waad Mohamed. Also, “Wadjda” film has exceeded other nominees from the Arab world in category of “Muhr Arab”.
In the same year, “Wadjda” Film won 3 international awards, CinemAvvenire Award, CICAE Art Cinema award and the Interfilm award at the 69th annual Venice Film Festival. These international awards are awarded in recognition of excellence of professionals in the film industry, including directors, actors and writers. Also, to help promote intercultural dialogue, and support films which empower understanding, respect, sympathy and peace between people of different origins, histories and beliefs. Furthermore, the event was attended by Mr. Fahad Alsukait, CEO of Rotana, Ms. Al Mansour and cast members.
The Film "Wadjda", screen written and directed by Al Mansour, and produced by Rotana Productions, Razor Film, and High Look Group, tells the story of a 10-year-old girl living in Riyadh who beats the odds to create a heartening tale of a girl's journey to own a bicycle. The coming-of-age film has been called “revolutionary” by the global film industry, and is the first full-length feature film to be filmed entirely in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with an all-Saudi cast.
Ms. Al Mansour thanked Prince Alwaleed and expressed her delight at being the first Saudi female director. She also referred that she was very proud to hold this position and regards it as a platform for further competitive opportunities for Saudi women in the film industry.
HRH is known for being a proponent of Saudi women’s full participation in society and in the workforce. Prince Alwaleed is known for his forceful advocacy of Saudization in the work force, in addition to driving economic and social reform. The Prince holds to the view that there is no conflict between modernization and tradition, where society can be “socially, intellectually and economically advanced, and religiously devoted.”
In 2006, Rotana produced the first social comedy-drama Saudi film Keif Al Hal and in 2008, Rotana released the production of its Saudi film ‘Menahi’ for the first time in Saudi in Jeddah and Taif with a premiere that took place on the second day of Eid Al Adha. In an unprecedented event in Saudi Arabia, the film was aired at the King Abdulaziz Cultural Centre in Jeddah. This marked the first introduction of cinema in Riyadh and the re-appearance of cinema in Saudi Arabia with an absence of more than 35 years.
‘Menahi’ premiered in Geneva and Paris and number of Arab countries, in addition to Egyptian film theatres. It was the first time that a film produced in a GCC country is shown on such a wide scale and was also in cinemas in Bahrain for 2 months. Moreover, Menahi was aired at the Prince Faisal bin Fahad hall at the Literary Club of Riyadh and in Abha during the Abha Festival, and the Eastern Province.
Prince Alwaleed is also a keen advocate of women’s empowerment, through Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation, chaired by Prince Alwaleed that also encourages and supports organizations, studies, and academic centers focusing on empowering Saudi women, alleviating poverty, upgrading services provided to the population, and other social infrastructure issues that face the country.
Also, Alwaleed Foundation in partnership with The Ministry of Labor (MOL) announced in 2011, the launching of the “Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Unemployment Awareness TV Campaign”. Rotana was the first company approached by MOL to support this initiative. Furthermore, the Foundation was the diamond sponsor of Tawteen 2012 event that was held at the Intercontinental, Riyadh in 2012. The event was aimed at supporting young nationals, and contributes to the elimination of unemployment. The program supports government initiatives, non-profit organizations and the private sector concerted efforts to enable young people to enter the labor market at all levels of education, and work to create modern jobs in line with the current advancement of Saudi society and contributes to the process of creating qualified nationals
As an extension for this drive for change, Prince Alwaleed also sponsored the first Saudi lady pilot, first Saudi lady equestrian jockey, and employs a majority of Saudi women that has reached 83% at Kingdom Holding Company (KHC) chaired by HRH, a first for a Saudi company, and 80% of KHC staff are of Saudi nationality. Moreover, Prince Alwaleed said that his support and encouragement of Saudi women stems from the fact that women's active role is required for the economic and social advancement of Saudi Arabia, and granted the opportunity to excel in the work force and hold leading positions.